On Monday, Sept. 12, 2022, the City Council approved a budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year beginning Oct. 1, which lowers the city portion of the tax rate to $0.6572 per $100 of assessed valuation, $0.0287 lower than last year's property tax rate and the lowest the city's rate has been since 2008. Some property owners may see their city tax bills rise if the assessed values of their property increase. The city of Burleson does not set the appraised value of homes. The appraisal districts in the homeowner's residing county are responsible.
The adopted budget was developed over the last seven months with the input of the city council and community via an online survey and public meetings. The budget is designed to meet the challenges faced by the organization and accomplish the goals outlined in the City of Burleson's Strategic Plan. It was also developed in the context of a five-year financial plan to ensure that decisions made today are financially sustainable in the future.
The approximately $204.3 million budget includes adding an additional one percent (1%) homestead exemption in FY 2024. Last year's budget included one percent (1%) homestead exemption for the first time in the city's history. The city's goal is to increase the homestead exemption by one percent (1%) each year to continue to offer our resident's a way to decrease their property tax bill.
Improving the city's roadways and traffic congestion is a top priority in the budget, with council approving $6.2 million in street and traffic improvements over the coming year and $35 million for the construction of Lakewood/Chisholm Summit infrastructure. In the five-year CIP, the budget includes over $87.6 million in funds for street, traffic and sidewalk improvements.
Highlighted capital improvement projects include improving mobility on SH 174 (Wilshire Blvd) by updating all signal controllers and the communications for the signals to sync them with real-time traffic flow patterns. Other projects include widening SH 174 (Wilshire Blvd) and providing an east-to-west connection from I-35W to Chisholm Trail Parkway. This project will connect the existing Alsbury Boulevard to the existing CR 1020.
This year's budget includes a substantial investment in Burleson's public safety. Multiple new positions are being added to the police department, including two new police lieutenants, three school resource officers, one property and evidence technician, and one records clerk. Six new firefighters and three dispatch communication personnel are being added to prepare for the fire department's transition to EMS-based service.
Approved in the 2022 Bond, the police headquarters expansion will begin design work in the upcoming fiscal year.
The city manager's office continues to place emphasis on cost containment through organizational efficiency. Several programs have been implemented in the past year to contain costs, including a Lean Government program that encourages employees to identify areas for process improvement throughout the city.
Staff also analyzed the Equipment Replacement Funds and were able to return $3 million to the General Fund and a $1 million transfer from the proprietary equipment replacement fund to the Water Fund. Staff also evaluated the city's existing cash balances and planned capital projects and were able to reduce debt sales for FY 2021/22, resulting in a $12 million savings.
The approved budget does not recommend any fee increases for water or sewer utility customers.